Report: WWL Host Took Loan From Landfill Owner Under Investigation
September 6, 2011 at 3:32 PM (PT)
The NEW ORLEANS TIMES-PICAYUNE reports that ENTERCOM Talk WWL-A-F/NEW ORLEANS host GARLAND ROBINETTE took a $250,000 loan in OCTOBER 2007 from the owner of a landfill while previously criticizing on the air the reopening of the landfill's competitor. The paper says that it confirmed with ROBINETTE's attorney DANE CIOLINO that ROBINETTE took the loan from RIVER BIRCH LANDFILL owner FRED HEEBE, who CIOLINO described as a "personal friend" of ROBINETTE's.
The RIVER BIRCH operation is under federal investigation for alleged bribery of a state official with $460,000 in order to get the government to close the competition, but CIOLINO said that while ROBINETTE was questioned by investigators, "he has cooperated fully. He has been told that he is not a subject or target of the investigation."
ROBINETTE discussed the landfill controversy on his show before the loan and raised environmental concerns about the competition, the OLD GENTILLY LANDFILL, but CIOLINO said that ROBINETTE "is certain that he never spoke about RIVER BIRCH at any time after receiving the loan from Mr. HEEBE" and informed ENTERCOM about the loan.
On his show TODAY, ROBINETTE said that he had "done nothing wrong," adding, "Believe me, I would like nothing more than to respond to each and every allegation, because I have answers for each and every allegation, But I've been asked to refrain from discussing these matters," although he did not say who had asked him not to discuss the situation.
WWL News Director DAVE COHEN reports that ENTERCOM management released a statement saying that ROBINETTE told them about the 2007 loan in DECEMBER 2010, that he says will be paid off in OCTOBER 2011 and that the company does "not intend to comment on (the matter) publicly any further and do not expect this matter to affect GARLAND's status with WWL. We expect him to continue his unique and vital role addressing on WWL the important issues facing NEW ORLEANS and the GULF SOUTH."
ROBINETTE was a longtime news anchor at CBS affiliate WWL-TV before leaving in 1990 to become a public relations representative of a mining company he had previously investigated as a reporter.